Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny stepping down

Violet Powell
May 18, 2017

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny resigned as leader of his Fine Gael party on Wednesday, kicking off a succession contest between two younger ministers who colleagues hope will boost the party ahead of an election due late next year.

The Fine Gael Press Office told JOE that the parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday, which takes place at 5.30pm, has been described as a "regular meeting".

He had previously said he wouldn't lead the party into the.

In a statement, Enda Kenny revealed he will "retire as leader from midnight tonight 17th May 2017".

He will act as interim leader until then and has indicated that he will give his successor a "brief but appropriate" period to negotiate with the rest of the Dáil to secure a government going forward.

He also noted Mr Kenny's contribution to job creation, his role in the marriage equality referendum and his encouragement of intergenerational change in Fine Gael.

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Kenny has overseen Ireland's dramatic turnaround from entering a humiliating three-year state bailout months before he came to power to becoming Europe's fastest-growing economy for the past three years. Fianna Fail agreed a year ago to abstain in key votes to let the minority government run until late 2018.

National broadcaster RTE said last week that of those in the parliamentary party who had confidentially declared their support - around half - 23 favored Varadkar, the son of an Indian immigrant who is Ireland's first openly gay minister. The parliamentary party will have 65% of the vote, the councillors will have 10%, and the general membership, which is bigger in Cork than Dublin, has the remaining 25%.

The Taoiseach's decision paves the way for Ireland to have a new head of government.

He said "I especially want to thank my wife Fionnuala, our children, my siblings and their families for their understanding of my work, and indeed for accepting the many intrusions of politics into family life in the interest of building our country".

Questions will immediately turn to a successor and the country's next taoiseach alongside the analysis of Mr Kenny's legacy after leading the country out of a crippling recession, albeit with an agenda of austerity.

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